Day 1 part 2

As you may know, I’m a bit of a gadget person. (There may be subtle understatement in the preceding sentence.) One new gadget I’ve got for this trip is a GPS datalogger; that’s a device that logs your location (and other information such as velocity and whether it’s time to change your socks) obtained from the GPS system every few seconds, saving it to its internal storage. Then, after your day’s hike or drive or whatever, you can load that track of locations onto your computer, and do clever things like adding location information to all the photos you took during the day.

Or you can do something like this:

It turns out that my GPS datalogger (an AMOD AGL3080) is good enough to track its location inside an airliner; I turned it on while we were on the ground, and after it acquired the satellites, it managed to track essentially the whole flight, while tucked into the seat pocket in front of me. (Once or twice it seemed to lose the satellites, so I just held it in front of the window for a short while and it found them again.) I know that GPS units work inside cars (obviously), but there they’re usually stuck inside the front windscreen, and have a good view of a large part of the sky. Inside an aircraft it’s very different – just a small part of the sky is visible through a few nearby windows.

(In case you’re worried that it might have caused the plane to crash, the GPS logger only receives signals, it doesn’t send any. And it shouldn’t generate any significant RF noise either.)

Anyway, after rescuing the data that mysteriously disappeared from the device (a story for another time, perhaps), I loaded it into GPS Visualizer, and it worked its magic. Then there was a bit of mucking around with a Google Maps API key, a WordPress plugin to allow iframes, and the result is what you see above.

I’m not sure whether this is a revolution for travel blogs on the same scale that the printing press was for books, but I think it’s pretty cool. (In case you didn’t try it already, zoom in on Sydney in the map above and see the crazy post-takeoff course we flew. If you zoom in even more, you can even see the pushback from our gate and taxiing to the runway, and a short gap when the signal was lost. But don’t zoom in on the Honolulu end – you’ll wonder (as I do) why it shows us landing somewhere other than runway 4L, and then heading out to sea afterwards.)

All this is a long way of saying that the second part of my first day was flying from Sydney to Honolulu. :-)

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